One reason that I was particularly excited for this CIEE Seoul Program was all of the volunteer opportunities it boasted. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, only one was available this semester. Nevertheless, I signed up! Volunteering has always been a huge part of my life, and I was deadset on continuing to serve while abroad.
This semester for six weeks, I and other CIEE participants held English lessons for senior citizens. Once a week we would hop on the bus to the community service center, pass through all the health checkpoints, and make our way to the toasty, third-floor community room. Seated at tables in pairs, we welcomed groups of 3-5 senior citizens. They were always enthusiastic to learn whatever topic we presented that day, and sometimes, I got to practice my Korean!
My partner and I taught English vocabulary, grammar, and culture related to shopping! Others covered holidays like Halloween and Christmas or general topics like the human body and hobbies. It was fun learning about the lives of the senior citizens and sharing about ourselves as well. It was like having another set of grandparents in Seoul! At the end of the program, our tables graced us with cute gifts and notes that they had written in English (and some Korean).
If you get the opportunity to volunteer wherever you are, take it! It is a moment of learning for you and the community. Service isn't going to a place with the intention of gaining anything or saving anyone, but it is the opportunity to bridge your understanding of others and learn from a different perspective.